Garden Wisdom

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.."  -Alfred Austin



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Jeff, Gardener in Chief

Contrary to popular opinion, some people in the Hamptons enjoy getting their hands dirty. I'm a self-taught gardener in East Hampton, NY that enjoys sharing my gardening experiences and inspiration with others. Hope you enjoy my blog and galleries.

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« You Can Grow That! | Main | A Winter Rail Excursion »

High Times in New York City

Echinacea purpurea 'Vintage Wine' beautifully surrounded by Stipa tenuissima

As promised yesterday, today I'm sharing some photos that I took of the New York High Line last summer. What was once a forsaken elevated rail line is now an incredible New York City public garden with plantings that can compete with the most beautiful countryside landscapes.

The naturalistic planting style was inspired by the self-seeded vegetation that grew on the High Line during its 25 years of abandonment. Of course, the designed plantings are more lush and dramatic.  Much to my excitement, there is a huge emphasis on native plants, including many that lived here originally. Native and non-native plants were chosen for their hardiness and self-sufficiency.

I love how tightly everything is planted.  Large drifts of perennials look random as if Mother Nature planted them herself, yet are very well thought out.  Piet Oudolf, who consulted on the planting schemes, combines plants based on the shape of their vegetation and blooms not just their flower colors.  He uses grasses as focal points in some settings and as fillers in others. (I've practiced his design advice in my garden and highly recommend reading his book Designing with Plants.)

The blooms of Liatris spicata stand out against the dark railing
Naturalistic plantings backed by the cityscape
Rudbeckia subtomentosa (sweet black-eyed susan)
Helenium x 'Rubinzwerg' (sneezeweed)
Modern benches meld wonderfully into the landscape
Perennials and grasses grow among the rails
Shiny metal path cuts through woodland setting
Meandering walkways create mystery
Lush combination of Echinacea purpurea 'Vintage Wine', Eryngium yuccifolium and several types of grasses
Sedum telephium 'Red Cauli'
Echinacea purpurea 'Vintage Wine' and Echinacea purpurea 'Virgin' with Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass)

Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail'

Around every corner, I found another plant, combination or view that really excited me.  I have many more photos, but think I should stop for now.  I already started shopping for some of these eye-catching perennial cultivars from my favorite mail-order sources.  And I definitely want to add more grasses and sedges to my garden as fillers.

I think the big lesson here is that we can all create lush landscapes with a little site preparation and careful plant selection. As the famous Sinatra song proclaims, if you can make it there (NYC), you can make it anywhere.



For a winter view of the High Line, click here for yesterday's post.   For more information on the High Line check out their website,  And, of course, plan a trip to the High Line.  There's something beautiful to see every season.

Reader Comments (2)

Beautiful with a touch of "wild". Love it.

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Honeycutt


Love this naturalistic style. And I have a little secret about keeping your plantings a little "wild". Unlike more coiffed gardens, a natural garden doesn't need constant pruning, deadheading and, dare I say, weeding. You'll want to get to these tasks eventually or the garden will go wild, but a little untidiness looks natural.

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